Which Wyoming Cowboy wore it best? No. 66
CHEYENNE — Do you ever see a number on a Wyoming football jersey and think of all the great players to wear it? Yeah, me too. In this daily series, I’ll give you my take on which Pokes’ football player was the best ever to don each number. The criteria are simple: How did he perform at UW? What kind of impact did he have on the program?
No. 66 – Mike Dirks
Defensive tackle, 1965-67, Monticello, Iowa
Résumé in Laramie
Mike Dirks was a household name in 1967. Being named an All-American and All-Western Athletic Conference first-team player were just icing on the cake. Dirks won a WAC title in 1966 and '67. He played in the Sun Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. Dirks anchored the best defense in the nation in both seasons.
Marion Gearhart "Mike" Dirks was a fifth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles back in 1968.
Dirks was one of five Cowboys selected by an NFL team that spring, joining Jerry DePoyster, Jim Kiick, Mike LaHood and Paul Toscano. No other draft in pro football history has featured that many UW players.
Dirks was a terror on Lloyd Eaton's defensive line for three seasons in Laramie, registering 71 tackles -- 30 of the unassisted variety -- including 26 career stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Along with Jim House, Jerry Durling, Larry Nels and LaHood, Dirks helped lead Wyoming to the best rushing defense in the nation in 1966 and '67.
In 1966, Wyoming went 9-1 during the regular season. The lone loss came at the hands of Border War rival Colorado State and a "bounce pass" that stunned the Cowboys late in the forth in Ft. Collins. Dirks and the Pokes would win their last three games -- all on the road -- before taking on national power, Florida State, in the Sun Bowl.
The Seminoles did all of their damage through the air that day. Quarterback Kim Hammond threw touchdown passes of 23, 49 and 59 yards in the 28-20 Wyoming victory on Christmas Eve.
FSU completed 17-of-35 passes. The Cowboys held the 'Noles to minus-21 yards rushing.
The following season, Dirks and the Pokes once again rolled to a 10-1 record. This time, it was a perfect regular season, highlighted by four straight wins over rivals Air Force, CSU, BYU and Utah. UW was ranked No. 7 in the nation when it traveled to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl and a date with the hometown LSU Tigers.
Wyoming fell to the Tigers that afternoon, 20-13. This quote from LSU head coach Charlie McClendon said it all: "Wyoming has fine football players. The LSU coaches know this, but the fans may not have realized it.
"Now they do."
Dirks was inducted into the UW Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993. In fact, the 1966 and '67 teams are also in the school's Hall of Fame. So are 10 of his teammates: DePoyster, Durling, House, Gene Huey, Bob Jacobs, Kiick, LaHood, Nels, Toscano and Vic Washington.
Isaac Morales (2001-03) was named an All-Mountain West Honorable Mention in 2003. Morales, along with Trenton Franz, anchored an offensive line that blocked for quarterback Casey Bramlet and running back Derek Armah.
Morales played six seasons in the Champions Indoor Football League.
Who else wore No. 66
Ed Posa (G), Paul Muratore (G), Ron Voris (G), Mitch Kunce (OG), Shaun Kissack (OG), Greg Scanlan (C), Terry Staggs (OG), Andy Bickel (OT), Chance McClaren (OG), Zach D’Amico (OL), Laitham Johnson (OL), Connor Schopp (OL)
All available rosters and photos courtesy of the University of Wyoming. If we missed one, please email Cody@7220sports.com.